Permission to speak How to change what power sounds like, starting with you

Samara Bay

Book - 2023

"Find your voice and use it to lead us to a better future, with this game-changing blueprint for redefining what power and authority sound like--from a Hollywood communication expert. Anyone who has ever been told "You should speak up!" during a meeting at the office, a group project at school, or even a conversation among friends can attest to the misunderstanding at the heart of that demand. For those of us--including women, people of color, immigrants, and queer folks--who find... it hard to speak up, the issue is not just about willpower. Many of us have internalized the same messages since birth: that because of the pitch of our voice, the accent we possess, or the slang we use, we will not be taken seriously. Power, we're told, sounds like the mostly white, straight, wealthy men who wield it. Samara Bay--one of the most in-demand speech and dialect coaches in Hollywood--has made it her mission to change that, and with Permission to Speak she presents a fun and practical road map for making big cultural change while embracing our natural strengths. Drawing on her experience plus the latest research in public speaking, linguistics, and social science, she identifies tools for unlocking the potential in each of our voices--whether you're an entrepreneur, a new political candidate, a creative type with a bold vision, or a mom going back to work. Giving yourself permission means more than landing your message--it's about showing up when you show up and finding joy in speaking to your public. With simple tools, big ideas, and a whole lot of heart, Permission to Speak offers a revolutionary take on public speaking and a new definition of what power sounds like. Namely, you"--

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2nd Floor New Shelf 808.51/Bay (NEW SHELF) Checked In
Handbooks and manuals
Self-help publications
New York : Crown [2023]
First edition
Physical Description
viii, 274 pages ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 253-264) and index.
Main Author
Samara Bay (author)
  • Introduction: The new sound of power
  • Breath: how to breathe like you've got permission to speak
  • Size: vocal fry, upspeak, sorrys, and the size of your voice
  • Emotion: Own your feelings
  • for good
  • Pitch: the highs and lows of power
  • Tone: talk to get heard
  • Sounds: accent bias, white supremacy, and like the voice you actually have
  • Words: the words you choose and how to say them like they're yours
  • Heroism: How to talk about yourself (hint: it's not about you, it's about us).
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Speech coach Bay helps women more effectively use their voices in this savvy debut. Too many women, Bay posits, speak in unnatural ways because they're too critical of themselves. The problem, she writes, is externally imposed: society is conditioned to equate authority with the speech of (often white) male leaders--think JFK or Steve Jobs. To that end, Bay sets out to help women "own" their voices and communicate confidently. She breaks down breathing, pitch, and tone, blending practical tips with emotional insight. One chapter, for example, outlines ways for readers to find their "natural rhythm of diaphragmatic breathing" and explains "the better we breathe, the more powerful we feel." Elsewhere, Bay discusses managing one's voice (and self-confidence) in stressful situations like job interviews. The principles that can improve one's speech, Bay makes clear, double as personal polestars--embracing imperfections, harnessing gratitude, and summoning confidence: "It's hard to believe how much bravery is required to take up space," but in doing so, women can "become the new sound of power." Bay's tone is spirited and encouraging, and there's no shortage of takeaways for curious readers. Anyone looking to sharpen their speaking skills will want to give this a go. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

A feminist approach to public speaking. Drawing on her work with actors, academics, businesspeople, and politicians, speech and dialect coach Bay makes her book debut with an encouraging, practical guide to public speaking for women who have learned that to succeed, they must strive to sound "like a straight, white, rich, remarkably large man." Because of the restrictiveness of the patriarchy, many women have retreated into silence or developed tics such as upspeak, hedging, and apologizing. In chapters that cover topics including pitch, tone, accents, word choice, and emotion, Bay focuses on how voices connect to power. "When I say power," she clarifies, "what I mean is respect. When I say power, what I mean is control over our bodies and our finances and our destinies. When I say power, what I mean is the opportunity to run the show and feel our feelings." The author liberally sprinkles the text with lively anecdotes about her many clients as well as the findings of researchers. She offers exercises, such as breathing, guided meditation, throat relaxation, and finding one's optimum pitch, but she rejects the idea that women should artificially lower their pitch in order to sound powerful--as Margaret Thatcher and Elizabeth Holmes did. That strategy, she warns, validates "the hierarchical system that says high voices belong to small, cute things, and low voices belong to power. The solution is to reject that." Similarly, Bay rejects the idea that women should tamp down emotion if they want to be taken seriously. When people speak with feeling, she writes, "they reveal that they are determined, angry, heartbroken, joyful, alive." Audiences respond to strength and warmth, and the author consistently reveals her own warmth toward her readers. Coaching, she writes, involves "not facts but a huge hug of it's-not-your-fault and you-are-not-alone validation, which is what I know actually frees our voices and allows for joy in communicating." A generous companion for building confidence. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.